I have a rule: “Own the cheapest starting defender among top clubs.” Given Manchester United’s World Cup exposure* and Jose’s perpetual moaning, It looked like Luke Shaw would start for the first few weeks, at least. At $5.0 M, he fits the rule. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he could last in Mourinho’s squad a lot longer than expected. He’s also on the last year of his contract. Luckily, he scored his first top-flight goal and bagged 11 EFL points. Vardy’s extra time header from the post stopped him from bagging 15 points this week! If I have to swap him when the time comes, I like Phil Jones (MU) at $5.5 M and a likely price drop.
I got off of David Luis (CHE) at the last minute because Rotowire had Christensen staring and Luis on the bench. They do their best. I picked up Bellerin (ARS), who I want long-term even though the opening two fixtures for him are rough. Both cost $5.5M. I buried Bellerin deep in my bench and started Wan-Bissaka, who I previously had on the bench. Luis started and had a clean sheet and a yellow card. Wan-Bissaka got a clean sheet and an assist. 15% of the league owns Wan-Bissaka. I’m guessing 4% started him. He earned 12 points and despite the heavy ownership, he was my biggest differential in GW1.
Robertson (LIV $6.0, 11 pts.) to Alexander-Arnold (LIV $5.0, 5 pts.) It cost me an assist and two bonus points against a yellow card, no bonus, and a clean sheet for both. Robertson looked better than Alexander-Arnold, especially in the first half, though the card was weak and Alexander-Arnold didn’t really look less likely to feed a goal than Robertson over the full 90 minutes.
Another downgrade that cost me assists – I got off Mendy (MC) at the last minute and downgraded to Stones, saving $0.5. Bad news: Mendy got two assists, a clean sheet, and all three bonus points. He more than rewarded his ownership. Good news: Stones looked great and got 2 bonus points to go with a clean sheet. Mendy looked awesome as a hybrid midfielder. Right now, Mendy looks like the smartest way into City’s midfield. Doubling up with Stones might be ideal. I don’t think I can make that work…yet.
I spent all that money, and a little I had saved up on “upgrading” Pedro (CHE) to Eriksen (TOT). That cost me a goal and a net 7 points to go with the $3.0 M upcharge for Eriksen. Still, I’m looking at Eriksen as a set-and-forget fixture in my team. I’ll probably sell him in two weeks and regret it.
Callum Wilson. OK we all do this. I love the guy. In Bournemouth’s last season in the Championship, Wilson was the man. In the 2014–15 Championship season that led to promotion to the EPL, he scored 23 goals in 50 appearances. He started his EPL career like a house on fire. Two ACL surgeries later (each knee, so he should be set), he looks good. I hope he gets to live his destiny. Despite a missed PK in GW1, he netted a goal and an assist for 8 points.
Budget Non-scorers who looked good:
Niasse – F – EVE – $5.5
Hadergjonaj – D – HUD – Looked great; $4.5 D in EFL — Played as RWM in GW1.
Gray – M – LEI – $5.5 – Vardy is going to score. The goals have to come from somewhere. Gray has pace to burn.
Maddison – M – LEI – $6.5 – See Gray, above. Maddison has a lot of swagger.
He scored but:
Kante – CHE: Kante scored 101 points in 2017/18 as a ‘worthless’ CDM. He’s priced at $5.0 and he might increase in price pretty soon. He played much further forward in GW1 than he ever did last year. He’s not going to score a goal a game, but I’ll bet that by the end of the year he’ll outscore the $5.0 Midfielder I started the season with, Fulham’s Cairney.
*The ‘World Cup Players won’t play’ conventional wisdom was iffy at best. To maximize GW1 scoring it was still a good idea to be wary. A lot of them came on for the last few minutes to play havoc with EFL managers’ hopes to get Wan-Bissaka off the bench, but World Cup players — even those who went deep in the tournament — made a lot of appearances in this round, see: DeBruyne, Hazard, Lukaku, Vertonghen, Kane, Alli, Kante, Pogba, Sterling, Vardy, Stones, Maguire. All these guys were on teams that played the maximum number of World Cup games and also played in their EPL league-openers.
And remember, you should dive!